The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

The 11 stories in The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror reimagine classic bedtime tales in new (and sometimes twisted) ways. "Beauty and the Beast" is the clear inspiration for the title story, while threads of "The Little Mermaid" appear in "The Daughter Cells," and anthropomorphic characters from The Wind in the Willows and Frog and Toad Are Friends appear in "Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad" and "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors."

These are not classic adaptations and retellings, however eerily familiar some parts of the stories may seem. Mallory Ortberg, co-founder of The Toast and author of Texts from Jane Eyre, combines these well-known tales with lesser-known stories, myths, prayers and other time-worn narratives in ways that are at once bizarre and delightful, horrific and compelling. Imbued with Ortberg's characteristic dry humor and sense of mischief managed, each piece in The Merry Spinster bends and twists to grapple with big questions: Do we own ourselves, or are we obligated to share ourselves with others? If the latter, what does that look like? How important is gender in our understanding of the stories we read? How do we force our expectations on the roles we see others play: spouse, lover, partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? The Merry Spinster is part of the great tradition of storytelling, updating classics in sometimes startling, always subversive ways that will make readers rethink how--and why--some stories are told again and again. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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